Home > education, management, research > how OD interventions need to be adapted to fit different cultural contexts.

how OD interventions need to be adapted to fit different cultural contexts.


Cummings and Worley acknowledge the importance of appreciating, if not understanding, the cultural context when considering an OD interventions. This includes culture on a national, regional, tribal, religious and ethnic dimension as well as the traditional social norms. They remind us that interventions appropriate in one area may not fit separate culture. This cultural context must be considered for the intervention from day one in terms of defining appropriate roles for the OD consultants, whether internal or external; the processes used to diagnose, analyze, design and implement strategies; the degree to which the culture requires or permits partnership status for stakeholders; the political culture and its accommodation for power and authority; the value system by which interventions will be judged as failure or success and the timeframe within which interventions can expect to operate. Culture will help influence the capacity for change as well as the degree of possible change in the narratives by which success and failure will be defined and propagated throughout the organization.

Because culture takes so long to change and is driven by factors beyond our control in many cases, while OD interventions particularly in business must happen in a much shorter timeframe, culture, in my opinion, can at best be appreciated and accounted for rather than changed in your intervention strategy. Positive results from the change you create well over the long run influence the culture, if you’re change in results are persistent, but I have seen an awful lot of energy spent on changing a culture come to naught, both in the Army and in my private business practice.

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